(Newburyport MA) Freshman Adrian Torres delivered the shot Dracut needed to advance to the Division 3 North semifinals.
Adrian (16 points) took an excellent feed from Mitch Monette and swished a 3-pointer in the closing seconds from in front of the Middies crowd to give #12 Dracut a 57-54 upset win over #4 Newburyport on Friday night.
The Clippers (18-4) nearly got even in those closing seconds but Ryan Archie’s triple rimmed out.
“Adrian shoots like that every day in practice,” said senior Mitch Monette afterwards. “I was confident that he would make it.”
The Middies (12-10) will face either Arlington Catholic or St. Mary’s in the next round.
Newburyport had a nine-point lead in the first half while Dracut was ahead by four in the second half. But those leads didn’t hold up.
The Clippers led 12-10 after one period. At halftime, the teams were even, 27-27. The third quarter ended with Newburyport in front, 40-39. In the final quarter, the scored was tied, 54-54, with 1 ½ minutes remaining.
Neither team could gain separation. The Middies were hurt by foul trouble while the Clippers missed fifteen free throws.
It came down to the final ninety seconds and the five possessions that filled them.
Newburyport sought the perfect shot and ended up with a shot-clock violation.
Ryan Archie’s tight defense forced a bad Dracut pass.
George Coryell missed a shot. Jake Robertson got the rebound but traveled.
This was the lead-in to Adrian’s game winner. Mitch Monette (12 points) had been able to get to the basket, so when he looked to be about to come down the lane the Clippers defense sagged in to stop it. But instead of shooting, Mitch tossed a jump-pass to his left to a wide-open Adrian Torres who didn’t miss.
“That freshman, he’s something else,” said senior Cam McCullough. “I’m not surprised he made it because he does it every day in practice even when I’m guarding him!”
“We wanted to spread the court and see what turned up,” said Dracut coach Brian Myers about his team’s last possession.
The Clippers did have a chance to tie the game and came close. George Coryell tossed a full-court pass to Jake Robertson, who was fouled. I suspect that the plan was for Jake to make the first shot and then miss the second hoping a rebound could produce a 2-point play for the tie. Instead, Jake missed the first one. The second shot was then missed intentionally and Harry Bovee was able to flip the rebound out to Ryan Archie, beyond the arc. Against Swampscott, Ryan hit that shot. Not tonight and the celebrating began for the Middies.
Coach Brian Myers said that playing in the tough Merrimack Valley Conference helped them. “We play tight games like tonight’s every game in that league.”
The gymnasium was packed. Many ended up standing around the perimeter.
Casey McLaren (21 points) became Newburyport’s all-time leading scorer. He passed Rachel Wile tonight to do it.
Casey scored all fifteen of Newburyport’s points in the second quarter.
Casey got those 15 points in the first six minutes of the second quarter giving NHS a 27-20 lead. However, the last two minutes belonged to the visitors. A layup be Cam McCullough and a triple and two free throws by Adrian Torres earned Dracut a halftime tie.
“Coming back from the nine-point deficit was key,” said Coach Myers. “We showed that we could stay with them.”
After Dracut took a 3-point lead on Will Peters’ layup with 2:18 left in the game it was the Clippers’ turn to rally back. A rebound conversion by Ryan Archie and a Casey McLaren free throw knotted things at 54.
George Coryell & Parker McLaren each collected eleven points for NHS.
Mitch Monette added twelve points for Dracut.
That Dracut is even in the tournament is a story in and of itself. The Middies had 1-19 seasons the last two years. They were not only defeated a lot but often defeated by lopsided scores. But along came Coach Brian Myers. Brian said afterwards that he’s “a Dracut guy.” After coaching successfully at Lowell, Brian opted to come back to coach the school he attended. He said that he “saw potential.”
“It takes a group of kids buying into a system. We work hard every day.”
Despite the team’s lack of size, they were able to hold their own against larger Casey McLaren and his brother Parker. Casey had only three points in the second half.
Cam McCullough was in awe of the setting: “It was the loudest environment I’ve ever played in. It was a great game to be part of.”
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)